Friday, January 1

Covering an escape… (Original Fiction by Xan)

As the two bandits make their way, back through the tunnel ash pushes up in their faces as the chests drag on the ground. The halfling, covered in ash, pulled the first chest off to the side, grabbed a hold of one of the worm creatures, and began to slowly move it towards the hole. The second chest pushed through the hole and slid against the wall, Zander’s huge blackened hand protruding from the hole.

“They’re right behind me Beasley!”

“Well then, get out of the way,” Beasley, grunted as he continues to tug on the mutated worm. “I have an idea! Get out of that ash chute and help me.”
“What are we doing with that thing?” Zander made his way out of the tunnel and wiped the ash from his face.

“If we pull this in front of the hole it will slow them down as they crawl out.” Beasley had a gleam in his eye. “As they push their way out of the, now smaller opening that will give us a chance to…” Beasley cleared his throat. “Clobber them.”
In an instant, Zander’s eyes took on the same gleam as he gripped the giant worm; with a mighty grunt he swung, it in front of the chutes opening. He then wasted no time positioning himself on the side of the opening and readied his mighty hammer.
The first guard encountered the worm corpse and struggled to push past it. As he pushed his head through the opening, he did not have time to react before everything went dark. Zander’s well-placed hammer strike crushed the helmet of the guard between his shoulders with a hollow crunch.

Beasley blinked at the power of his towering companion. He shook his head in disbelief and readied himself for the next guard as he shouted, “Move him out of the way, that way the guards following will think they are still chasing us.”

“Done!” Without a second thought, the giant hefted the guard into the back wall with a limp thud. The next guard peeked his head through as Beasley jumped onto his back and slashed him from ear to ear. Beasley jumped off the limp body, and Zander played clean up once again lofting the body into the forming pile. The next four guards fell just as easily, but as the seventh guard crept through the hole, he managed to take a sing with his sword at Beasley. As he leapt to avoid the sword swing, a burst of flame rumbled down the shaft above them. Zander howled in pain as his cloak smoked and his chain mail armor smoldered. The guard lay dead in the hole. The giant grimaced as he pulled the burnt guard away from the hole and threw the body, as he did so he noticed a figure standing on the ledge above them.

An emaciated figure in dark flowing robes stood over them, his fingers had a smelly powder dropping off them. The skeleton of a man reached into a pouch at his belt, pulled out some more powder, and began to chant. Zander had to think quickly and stop this evil from casting another fireball. He grabbed a stone from the ground and said a quick prayer. A feeling like a thunderclap without noise reverberated in the room and everything fell eerily silent. Zander reached up to the ledge and dropped the stone at the wizards’ feet and without hesitation climbed onto the ledge. Zander pulled out his hammer that seemed to glow in the dim light of Beasley’s torch coming from the bottom of the cavern and he swung it into the wizard. He felt the hammer stop briefly as it connected and then continued on its course, taking the thin wizard with it until he smashed into the wall.

In the silence time seemed to slow down as Zander looked back into the pit and noticed Beasley was not near the tunnel entrance. He opened his mouth to scream Beasley’s name, but the sound stopped just short of reaching his lips. In a panic, the giant dropped back into the pit and fell to his knees he could see the small halfling and he was slashing at the last guard as he backed up in the dark hole.
“Come on!” Beasley was screaming as he slashed at the near helpless guard backing up. The halfling was standing completely upright and advancing as the guard, stricken with fear could do nothing more than back up on his hands and knees. The guard struggled to gain any advantage he could. Reaching for a small pile of ash in the tunnel corner, he threw it at the overconfident halfling. Beasley dropped to the ground, rolled toward the guard and his small short sword found its mark in the guards’ chest just as he reached the fireplace opening. He fell to the ground with a thump.

“Beasley?” Zander yelled in a panic as the silence spell wore off.

“Yeah?” Beasley emerging from the hole with ash and blood spattered all over his face. “You get that wizard?”

Zander reached for the halfling and gave him a bear hug. “How many times do I have to tell you?”

“You’re crushing me!” Beasley gasped for air as Zander’s massive arms flexed around him.

“No,” Zander chuckled as he loosened his grip. “Don’t run off without me.”

“Let’s not worry about me; you know I handled that human guard all by myself.”

Zander lowered Beasley to the ground as he continued his boastful rant. “And I did it without sneaking up behind him.” He hopped onto the pile of bodies and examined the two chests. “Can we open these now before we go back?”

“As much as I like the idea of having funding to provide for our quest,” Zander chided the little burglar. “I think we aught to share with our other companions. However, before we go back to the surface, I think I can throw most of these contents in my ‘pack.”

“You’re right.” Beasley kicked one of the chests and turned his back. “I don’t want to see what’s in it yet then.”

“Very well.” Zander crushed the lids of both chests with his hammer and emptied their contents into his large chest backpack.

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